As a member of Children of Rageaholic Parents Anonymous, Stuart Smalley's daily affirmations began: "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough and doggone it, people like me."
Now, we'll admit there's some benefit in giving yourself a group hug (although it's not that easy), but for a really uplifting self-affirmation, it's more effective to focus on what matters to you in your life: family, friends, health and satisfaction from whatever you do day to day.
We've long said self-reflection and focus on life's essentials can reduce your reaction to inevitable, everyday stresses and help you connect to loved ones, make better choices and tackle problems more effectively. Recent research echoes that: When people were given a test with a very tight time deadline, those who did self-affirmation exercises first (listing what mattered to them most) solved 50 percent more problems than those who didn't.
So get out your No. 2 pencil and write down a list of the things that matter to YOU, such as family, work, friends, money, health, music, cooking, sleep - anything goes! Then prioritize them from most to least important. It will help you scale back your response to stress by letting you discard worries about things you don't really care about.
Once you've done that, you will find it easier to concentrate on what you do care about - and that just makes those things even more rewarding. You'll be clearer about how you feel and more decisive about what to do when inevitable problems at home, the office or with pals come along. Now you're great!